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What does ISRO’s IRNSS-1H satellite launch fail means?

IRNSS-1H is the first satellite jointly built by ISRO and the private sector

GN Bureau | September 1, 2017


#GPS   #navigation   #NAVIC   #satellite launch   #IRNSS   #ISRO  
Courtesy: ISRO
Courtesy: ISRO

On August 31, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) failed to launch IRNSS-1H, India's eighth navigation satellite, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh. The satellite was onboard the ISRO’s trusted workhorse PSLV, which failed to separate the heat shield, thus trapping the satellite within the shield.  

ISRO chairman AS Kiran Kumar described the failed mission as a “mishap” and has said the investigation would be conduction soon by a committee of experts. 
 
The unsuccessful mission though might appear as a technical glitch but the space agency has to answer many questions as it might put its reputation at stake.
 
Here’s why the mission was important
  • PSLV has been the space agency’s old and trusted workhorse and has successfully carried out 39 consecutive missions. Thursday’s failure has been its first since 1993. It has successfully carried out India’s mission to the Moon and the Mars, and the recent launch of 104 satellites (including satellites of other countries) in February. However, the IRNSS-1H failure may dent the space agency’s, especially PSLV’s, image in the international market. But ISRO has dismissed these fears by claiming that the rocket performed perfectly through the first three stages and the problem arrived in the fourth stage of the launch. 
  • The IRNSS-1H was a replacement satellite for the IRNSS-1A, which was launched in July 2013, in the seven-satellite constellation. Three rubidium atomic frequency standard atomic clocks were not functioning on the IRNSS-1A because of which the satellite was developing problems in delivering navigation services. IRNSS, also called NAVIC (Navigation through Indian Constellation), is India’s answer to the USA’s GPS. Atomic clocks are a key component of a satellite navigation system as they help in pinpointing an accurate location on the Earth. Though ISRO maintains that stopping of these atomic clocks has not affected the overall performance of the navigation system, yet the failure to launch a replacement satellite may serve as a setback to India’s GPS dreams. 
  • In this mission, ISRO for the first time had roped in the services of the private sector to jointly build IRNSS-1H satellite. Before this mission, private sector industries only supplied satellite parts and other material required to build a satellite. The move was seen as a major boost to the domestic industry to produce satellites. Kumar has clarified that it would be "unfair to target the private sector for the failure." 

Also Read: Get ready to use India’s own GPS

 

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